Merlion Project

Snippets from the founders of Singapore businesses

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Daring to take a leap of faith in starting your own business is hard. Here at Merlion Project, we aim to celebrate these stories of how business owners have struggled and overcame challenges.

Here are some quotes from our speakers, founders of local Singapore businesses, who shared their stories of struggle.

“Growing up, I always thought I had to work for someone. What changed my mindset was remembering that my grandfather had his own company and that he enjoyed every moment of it.”

“I also remember all the discouraging comments I received for wanting to study the arts. Some said it was a waste of time and that it had no future. A few even told me leaving the airline industry was one of the biggest mistakes I could ever make.”

“I’m glad I took a leap of faith depite it all.

~ How Joyce Orallo-Lim left her previous job as an air stewardess and started her homeware business Chokmah.


“My mum was concerned. She said ‘Why are you organising pasar malams? Do you have enough to eat?’ ”

“Until you are successful, you are seen as insane. It’s a route that nobody wants to take. People didn’t see it as a proper business.”

“But I always believe the more hardworking you are, the luckier you get. You have to stay focused and things will happen.”

~Kent Teo, on starting his bootstrap business organising flea markets, called For Flea Sake. He is currently the founder of Invade, which organises artisan markets such as Artbox and Shilin Night Market.


“My uncles said I’d last one year in the industry. That made me more determined to prove myself.”

“Not only was it a male-dominated industry, most business owners were older men in their 60s.”

“So to some people, gender alone could have been one of the challenges already. I had to try harder to prove myself somewhat.”

~ Nichol Ng, when she joined the male-dominated family business, and later restructured the company. She is currently the co-founder of Food Xervices Inc and The Food Bank Singapore.

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